On the day of the ceremony, the groom’s friends will gather to help him get ready. His best man – called the “koumbaro” – will shave the groom. This shows the trust between them. The koumbaro will also stand by the groom during the ceremony, and has other obligations like procuring the wedding crowns. All the other friends present help to dress the groom. One might button the shirt. Another might put the jacket on him. That way they all have a symbolic role in getting him ready. The bride is similarly prepared by her koumbara – or maid of honor – and dressed by her friends. On the bottom of the bride’s shoes are written the names of all her unmarried friends. The names that get worn away by the end of the night are the names of the women who will be married soon themselves. The bride, once she is dressed, traditionally leaves with her father. She is told by her mother to look back at her parents’ house one last time to ensure that the children take after that side of the family.
The ceremony will traditionally follow the ceremonies and rituals of the Greek Orthodox Church. Specific elements include the crowns, the candles, and the common cup. The ceremony has many steps and can easily last an hour – if not longer! The groom waits for the bride at the front of the church. He holds her bouquet, waiting for her. She is walked down the aisle by her father, presented to the groom, and handed the bouquet. Two gold crowns are made and connected by a single strand of ribbon. This symbolizes the union of the two people into a single married couple. The crown also signifies that they shall rule over their household together. The crowns are called “stefana” in Greek. During the ceremony, the crowns are swapped back and forth three times by the koumbaro. The bride and groom also hold candles during the ceremony. These symbolize the light that Christ symbolizes. The candles can be left in the church to burn, or brought back home to be used, but should never be thrown out. They should be burned down completely.